About three weeks after I got home last summer, a South African couple published a blog post called “Why We Quit Our Jobs In Advertising To Scrub Toilets” that went viral. In the post, they write that after travelling for six months they thought it was time to share the “uglier side” of their trip. Besides a tight budget and nutrient-lacking diet, the main “ugly” thing they discuss is the various jobs they had to work to pay for their travels.

Why We Quit Our Jobs In Advertising To Scrub Toilets

This article resonated with me particularly well because of its timing and relevance to my travels.

Travelling is amazing, but it isn’t glamourous. At least backpacking isn’t. You slowly (or in the  case of my first month abroad, quickly) watch your bank account balance decrease, and eventually you’re forced to find a source of income.

I knew I would eventually need to find a job in Australia, but I didn’t know how many jobs exploited travellers. Minimum wage in Australia is $17.29 right now, but as a traveller, you would be lucky to find a job that paid $15. Sometimes I even saw ads offering $10 cash an hour. With this rate, there is no way you could afford to live.

I lucked out with my two main jobs, and I’m still grateful for it, but there was a brief moment when Kelsey and I had the ultimate travellers job. We were carnies for a weekend. And not just any weekend, my 21st birthday weekend.

At first, we laughed at the thought of being carnies and even contemplated travelling with the carnival. But one hour into our first shift, we knew that wasn’t going to happen.

Carnivals are awesome until you’re the one standing around for twelve hours, heckling little children and their parents to come spend money at your booth. Add in your 21st birthday to the mix, and you’re probably not going to be loving life.

We made the best of it, and after our 12 hour shift on my birthday, Kelsey and I each bought our own Domino’s pizza and went to a pub with our friends to celebrate.

If anything, at least now I have a good icebreaker.